One of the UK’s favourite celebrity psychologists with appearances on the nation’s top TV programmes including Big Brother and This Morning to name a few, Anjula Mutanda gives Melanmag the lowdown about her dramatic childhood and upbringing in Uganda, primetime TV and her favourite beauty products.
Melan Magazine: In your words, how would you describe your heritage?
Anjula Mutanda: I’m half Indian and half Ugandan – my mother is Indian and my father is Ugandan. I regard myself as being culturally as well as religiously mixed, because my mum is Hindu and my dad was Catholic. Quite an unusual combination really; I haven’t come across anyone else quite like me.
MM: What drew you to the field of psychology?
AM: For me it’s always been about people. From a young age, and probably because I was an only child, I’ve loved adult company and been fascinated with body language and relationships. Couple this with growing up with my mum and dad, who were both very dramatic in behaviour. It was inevitable.
MM: Tell us about your childhood?
AM: I was born in Uganda to parents who had a very dramatic, volatile marriage. Outside of our home it was also a politically explosive time in Uganda too. Idi Amin, the notorious dictatorial president was in power. We literally lived opposite the presidential residence so there was always military protection around because my dad too was in politics. I guess you could say that I had a protected world view but I also knew that some very bad things were happening around me at the same time. Even as a young girl I had a heightened awareness about the world.
My mum and I arrived in the UK in the late 70s, my dad had passed away recently before. He’d suffered a fatal stroke. At the time, my parents had already separated and I was living with my dad. When he suffered the stroke, my mum came to get me and we had to flee the country. She was allowed to leave the country, but I wasn’t. We arrived in the UK with the clothes on our backs and one suitcase! It’s only when I look back I realise what a traumatic time of my life it was.
MM: What are you up to these days?
AM: I’m in the middle of filming a series for a major channel at the moment, unfortunately I can’t say anything about it. It’ll be out by the end of the year. What I can say is that it is very exciting and cutting edge. I’m also kept busy with numerous other TV shows and media publications. I’m living my dream career.
MM: What’s the highlight of your career so far?
AM: Oh my goodness, I’ve had so many. My first ever TV gig was the first series of Big Brother. At the time I had no idea what it was about. I was six months pregnant and had just given up my job in the City. A friend of mine told me that there was a brand new show in production and they were looking for a young psychologist. So I went along, got the role and
Didn’t really think anything of it. Big Brother was my massive break. My career would never have taken off the way it did without it. It was also huge fun.
I’m also very fond of my time on This Morning. As students at University we’d all watch the show, and I’d tell my mates that I’d love to be on that show. You can imagine how I felt the first time I got on the This Morning set. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been fortunate to have many moments like that. I feel really blessed to have had these opportunities.
MM: How do you juggle family life and work?
AM: I’ve been married for 16 years and I have a teenaged daughter. [She laughs] I feel sometimes like I’ve poured all my drama into her because she wants to be an actor. She has an amazing voice and is so incredibly talented. There is a lot of focus on her at the moment, quite rightly.
MM: What charities do you work with?
AM: I’ve been doing a lot of work with BME Cancer Voice, which talks to black and ethnic minority communities about cancer, because a lot of time they would rather not talk about illness. It almost feels like if you say the word you’ll get it! In the last few years I’ve been doing a lot of work to help raise awareness and the profile of the charity, along with some pretty amazing fundraisers.
I’m also an ambassador for Relate charity, close to my heart as they deal with relationships and marriage, both areas that I have focused on in my career.
MM: What’s your daily make up/beauty routine?
AM: I don’t really have a routine. I’m more of a crazy experimenter. It’s probably borne of having a daughter who spends an inordinate amount of time viewing beauty blogs and so we do a lot of experimenting. Our latest exfoliator is made up of pineapple, lemons and almonds and it’s amazing. It’s great because it revitalises the skin and it makes it glow. So if I have a shoot the next day or I’m filming, I will exfoliate with this combination the night before. I’m also very strict about cleansing and moisturising. I love my Estée Lauder makeup. I am very strict about toning, cleansing and taking makeup off before you go to bed. I’m also there with the silk head scarf every night [she laughs].
MM: Do you have a fitness routine?
AM: I’ve been going to the gym since I was 17. I find that it’s the best de-stresser and a great place to think. I don’t go for hours and hours, but at least three or four times a week, about 55 mins of cardio, but I’m at that stage where I can’t not go. I look forward to it.
I hit one of my life goals a few years ago when I ran the New York Marathon. It was a lifetime goal for me to do the 26.2 miles and I’ve never felt so happy. I really felt that if I could do that I could do anything.
MM: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own business?
AM: I always advocate following your passion, but you have to have a plan. If you have no plan, you will have no income. Develop a short, medium and long term plan. Take time to identify and develop your brand and stick to it. You must also be able to articulate in a couple of sentences, who you are, what you want to achieve, if you can’t do that, then you can’t sell your idea to anyone else.